The Art of Shopping – Grand Opening

You’ve heard all the rumors, read all the newspapers, and now it’s time for you to finally see the mall. It’s Grand Opening Day!

Centennial Mall

Grand Opening at Centennial mall

Named after, and built in Canada’s centennial year, Centennial Mall was opened promptly at 9:00 am on November 8, 1967 with an Official Ribbon Cutting ceremony. The almost 300,000 square foot center was anchored by one of Canada’s largest Safeway stores at that time, and the 21st Woolco in Canada, the 2nd in the Edmonton area. Amid the approximately 40 other retail shops and services, there was a copper fountain that looked to be an autumn tree rising from a ceramic tile pool. A Cafeteria opposite that was created to whisk you away to a European street cafe. Give-a-ways included trips for 2 to any destination in the Caribbean and a new 1968 Chevy II Nova.

Washington Square Mall

Grand Opening at Washington Square Mall

Edward J. DeBartolo’s third enclosed shopping center in Indianapolis, Washington Square Mall was officially opened on October 17, 1974. Not one, not two, but eight cascading waterfalls blended with lush greenery and carpeted brick benches to create much needed rest and relaxation areas. After all this 1.3 million square foot shopping center was designed to hold up to 5 department stores and well over 100 specialty retail shops of all descriptions. Fashions, shoes, books, restaurants, gifts and candy, fabric, jewelry and music stores. Don’t forget a florist, bakery, bank, theater and a drugstore. Also try not to let the eighty-eight, five foot long, suspended mirrored aluminum mobiles in the center court mesmerize you, there is shopping to be done!

Rolling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall Grand Opening

August 3rd, 1975 was a big day for Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio. In a privately held ceremony Rev. V. Stan Hampson used a thousand-year-old chant to bless the Mall and the Court of the Twelve Trees. Within the Court of the Twelve Trees, the mayor’s wife Ruth Ballard officiated a champagne christening of the Rolling Acres Fountains. This was to launch the Phase I opening to the public on August 6th, 1975. With only one department store and roughly 20 shops and services this was simply a glimpse into what Rolling Acres was about to become. The number of anchors, retail stores and the actual size of the mall continued to grow. Phase II Grand Opening ’76 took place in a little less than a year, in April 1976.

Check here for more Rolling Acres Mall

Crossroads Center

Grand Opening at Crossroads Center

On Wednesday, February 5, 1969 the first business opened at Crossroads Shopping Center in Waterloo, Iowa. With 14 service bays and 40 employees, the Sears Auto Center was open for business at 9:00 am sharp. Other department stores and additional retail outlets would continue to open for a little over the next year. Ultimately on May 13, 1970 Iowa’s then largest, and only two-story mall was officially opened with a total of 38 stores and capacity for close to 20 more. The contractors and sub-contractors were so proud to be a part of building this mall that they donated the Grand Opening Prize, a 1970 Ford Torino GT Hardtop.

Westminster Mall

Grand Opening at Westminster Mall

The design intention of Westminster Mall was to be a compact building, reducing the distance between the anchor stores, and making access easier to all mall merchants. To do this a central area was created, a boutique area containing shops that looked out upon the multi-levels. This also gave shoppers easy sight paths to the many other stores. But don’t let the word compact fool you. This 1.2 million square foot center opened on Wednesday, August 7, 1974 with two anchor stores, two more anchor stores slated to open in 1975, and 176 specialty stores and services. With a good blend of both national and regional, one could say Westminster Mall had an outstanding merchant mix. Oh, and there were sculptures, more sculptures than any other shopping center on the West Coast.

Dixie Square Shopping Center

Grand Opening at Dixie Square Shopping Center

On November 10, 1966, Dixie Square Shopping Center in Harvey, Illinois officially opened with 60 specialty stores and services anchored by JC Penny and Montgomery Ward. Most would consider Dixie Square Shopping Center the first pre-planned enclosed shopping mall in the south suburban area. Four contributing partners, who’s age averages 43, gave this mall forward-looking, clean modern wood-paneled lines, and the “Wonderfall”, which was also a first for the Chicagoland area.  A 21-inch RCA Victor Color Television was given to one lucky shopper.

Mall Memories – Egg Drop at Canton Centre

Sometime in the 1980’s a small radio station helped out with an Easter Egg Drop at Mellett Mall in Canton, Ohio.

Hot 95.9 egg drop at Mellett Mall

Hot 95.9 was a Top 40’s station based in New Philadelphia, Ohio that served Canton. The station was so small-scale that there was no budget and five air personalities, Scott Shapiro (a.k.a. Scott Davidson), Jeff Turk (a.k.a. JT), Mike Adams, Jeff Shreve and Brian Kelly were left to put all the promotions together.

Hot 95.9 egg drop at Mellett Mall

So Mike and Jeff dressed up as bunnies…

Hot 95.9 egg drop at Mellett Mall

and they got a giant crane…

Hot 95.9 egg drop at Mellett Mall

and proceeded to hold an event that was so big there were people wrapped around the mall.

Hot 95.9 egg drop at Mellett Mall

Were you there?

Store Showcase: The Original Cookie Company

Cole National Corporation owned several retail outlets that included Children’s Palace and Things Remembered along with optical departments in anchors like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Joseph Cole, the founder of CNC, and a seasoned shopping center retailer in his own right, most likely knew what he was doing when he decided to enter the cookie market in 1976 when he opened The Cookie Place in Youngstown, Ohio.

Cookies for sale at The Original Cookie Company
1983 – Bay Park Square Mall – Wasau Daily Herald

Soon thereafter he was contacted by two gentlemen looking for someone to help rescue them from their struggling cookie chain. Based on the success he had been seeing at his Youngstown store Mr. Cole purchased The Original Cookie Company in late 1977 and attained their 24 existing outlets.

The Origianl Cookie Company Storefront
Photo used with permission from Richard M. Cole & Associates

Mr. Cole did not hesitate expanding his new chain. Despite having no PR presence and solely relying on mall flyers and good old visibility Mr. Cole opened over 90 more successful cookie stores in a little more than five years. Just in time for the cookie wars to really break out in the early 1980’s.

Original Cookie Company concept drawing
Artist conceptual sketch for The Original Cookie Company. Found at Rolling Acres Mall demolition site.

At the same time The Original Cookie Co. was expanding, other cookie outfits were also setting themselves up to become national chains. Mr. Cole would quickly find himself in direct competition with the likes of David’s Cookies, The Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Company of New Jersey and Atlanta based The Original Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company. But it was Mrs. Fields who would ultimately go head-to-head with The Original Cookie Co.

Photo used with permission from Richard M. Cole & Associates

The Original Cookie Co. was unique from the competition for two reasons. The first, they were the only public chain out of the five national contenders. Secondly their parent company CNC was very used to getting leased space in shopping center locations. This would become very useful when the building of new shopping malls was noticeably coming to a halt in the 1980’s.

Photo used with permission from Richard M. Cole & Associates

The Original Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company however was easily leading the war with not only the most retail outlets but also with the lowest prices. But for CNC, The Original Cookie Co. was doing well enough to contribute upwards of 4% of the company’s overall earrings. Not bad for a little cookie shop and their multi-million dollar parent corporation.

The Original Cookie Company elevation drawing. Found at Rolling Acres Mall demolition site

Eventually The Original Cookie Co., along with Mrs. Fields, would be attained by Capricorn Holdings, based in Greenwich, Conn. The Original Cookie Co. would start it’s loss of existence in 1996 when Mrs. Fields Original Cookie, or MFOC, was formed.

By February, 2002, there were only 35 Original Cookie franchises in operation with no hopes of any additional stores.

Eating cookies at Waldenbooks, Rolling Acres Mall
Akron Beacon Journal – 1981

“The Original Cookie Company of Cleveland, Ohio, writes that it is against their policy to reveal cookie recipes.” (From The Cook’s Mailbag, The Indianapolis Star, Oct 4, 1989)

Store Showcase: Foxmoor Casuals

Foxwood Casuals Storefront
Foxwood Casuals, Washington Mall 1968 – Observer Reporter

Foxwood Casuals? Yes, in the beginning, 1963 to be exact, it was Foxwood Casuals, Inc., established in Pittsburgh, PA.

Foxmoor Casuals at Summit Mall, Akron, Ohio - Akron Beacon Journal 1977
Foxmoor Casuals at Summit Mall, Akron, Ohio – Akron Beacon Journal 1977

Foxwood Casuals quickly became the swiningest specialty shop around. It carried everything the “with-it” miss could dream of in clothes and accessories. Within roughly seven to eight years additional stores were opened throughout Pennsylvania and also in surrounding states.

The store itself was relaxed, rustic, and antiquey. With current hits being played in the background, it was a terrific setting to showcase the most up to the minute fashions. Even the salesgirls dressed in their snappiest Foxwood finds. It was once said that Foxwood buyers would visit various fashion capitals in the US and Europe to stay in tune with the fashion trends. Indeed, Miss Mansfield (Ohio) was one of the first employed at Foxmoor Casuals in Richland Mall in 1969.

Image courtesy Bob Connors from the Off the Rack - Retail Past and Present Facebook Group
Image courtesy Bob Connors from the Off the Rack – Retail Past and Present Facebook Group

Foxwood Casuals joined / was acquired by Melville Shoe Corporation in 1968. The brand was relabeled Foxmoor Casuals and seem to be a great fit for Melville, who also held the already successful Chess King. The plan was to have an additional 173 Foxmoor Casuals stores open from one end of the US to the other, in the span of five years. By 1982 there were a total of 588 Foxmoor Casuals retail stores.

Foxmoor Casuals Shopping Bag
Foxmoor Shopping Bag – 70s era

All the while, a company by the name of Dylex Limited was establishing itself as one of the largest specialty retailers in Canada. In the early 80’s they set their sights on the US market and in 1984 Dylex purchased what had grown to be a total of 614 Foxmoor Casuals stores. Focused on freshening up the look of the store as well as the merchandise to once again stay in tune with times, it only took Dylex a year to start seeing an increase in profit. However, this life for Foxmoor Casuals would sadly be much shorter than it’s first, with bankruptcy being the final cause of death.

Foxmoor Storefront at Arsenal Mall - Storefronts & Facades 1986
Foxmoor Storefront at Arsenal Mall – Storefronts & Facades 1986

“Our store is for the young, the mod, the altogether in crowd. We are really the coming scene.” Alex Lapina, Pittsburgh home office (News Journal, Oct 21 1969)

January Clearance – 1976

Check out these cool retro inspired Foxmoor shirts from Untitled Colours

Christmas at Rolling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall Fountain Santa

“Our Christmas wish for you are these: May you always see Christmas with the eyes of a child. May you always know the warmth of love, the joy of giving, the magic of Santa Claus and the wonder of a star. May your days be filled with laughter and your lives be filled with peace.” from the Rolling Acres Merchants (The Akron Beacon Journal, 1991)

Rolling Acres Mall 1998 Gingerbread Man Dillards

Rolling Acres Mall Christmas 1998

Rolling Acres Mall Christmas 1998 Payless Shoes

Lions…

Rolling Acres Mall 1998 Dillards

and Reindeers…

Rolling Acres Mall security

and Bears…

Rolling Acres Mall Dillards Christmas

Oh my!

Zales Roling Acres Mall

Rolling acres mall fountain

Seriously, how long is this going to take?

Christmas Rolling acres mall

Rolling Acres Mall Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…denim and a black light.

Christmas Rolling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a department store with three Christmas carolers near.

Rolling Acres Mall Fountain

I’m sorry, but that floor, how did they get it so shiny?

Rolling Acres Mall Fountain

Rolling Acres Mall

Well, this is a little sad.

Rolling Acres Mall REindeer

JB Robinson Rolling Acres Mall

 ♪♫ JB Robinson ♫♪

JB RObinson ROlling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall Christmas Train

 Best darn job in the mall!

Rolling Acres Mall Christmas     1998 WQMX Rolling Acres Mall

Could it be the WQMX “Wish Upon A Star” Wish Wheel where you could spin for a free trip, a telescope kit, or a $1,000 shopping spree? I’m in!

Northern Reflections Rolling Acres Mall

That reminds me, I still need to get my Christmas cards.

Rolling Acres Mall Entrance

Wow, that Post Office was also in this great video.

Rolling Acres Mall Fountain

Rolling Acres Mall Fountain 1998

Ahhhh, I think I’m going to rest right here on this beautiful bench and just take in all the glory that is Rolling Acres at Christmastime.

Rolling Acres Mall Elevator

Meanwhile, on the other side of the mall.

Rolling Acres Mall

May your shopping bags be full, and your local malls stay open!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Mallwalkers.net

Frederick's of Hollywood - Rolling Acres Mall

Store Showcase – Waldenbooks

If you were in a mall and wanted to browse the latest from Steven King, Tom Clancy or Danielle Steel (cause why not) you would most likely find yourself in a Waldenbooks. In fact, in 1933, the very first Walden Book Company was opened in a leased space inside a Read’s Department Store.

Jefferson Mall Waldenbooks advertisement

During the Great Depression, Walden Book Company was opened as a rental library. For only 3 cents a day you could lend a popular title, which would bring some much needed entertainment and escape without the cost of having to purchase a book. Several more rental libraries were opened, all in major department stores like Filene’s in Boston and G. Fox Department Stores in Connecticut.

Waldenbooks visual merchandising bookstore

In the 50’s and 60’s paperbacks were becoming very popular as retailers were able to sell these books for as little as 25 cents a piece. This also meant the need for rental libraries was diminishing.

Waldenbooks Storefront Elevation Blueprint

At the Walden Book Company there were talks of converting their rental libraries to retail outlets and by 1962 the very first Waldenbooks was opened in Northway Mall, originally a strip mall that was converted into Pittsburgh area’s first indoor mall that same year.

Waldenbooks Mall Storefront

From that point on store openings would become widespread. A little over 50 new stores were opened by 1969, with growth to approximately 30 to 40 stores per year in the 1970’s. In 1980 store openings peaked at 90, which averages more than one store per week, and by 1981 there was a Waldenbooks in all 50 states.

Waldenbooks store book display

In 1979 Mr. Harry T. Hoffman was named President at Waldenbooks, and from that point to 1991 Mr. Hoffman would reign supreme. Engineering Walenbooks into a $1 billion organization made Mr. Hoffman one of the most powerful leaders in the business. Sure, he may have taken the job merely for the money, and not all of Mr. Hoffman’s ideas were gold, but the ones that were, were brilliant.

Harry T. Hoffman Waldenbooks

In the stores, a new frequent buyers program, the first of it’s kind. A 10% discount on every purchase and a return of $5 for every $100 spent, the Preferred Reader program at just $10 a year was a no brainier. At least that’s what millions of customers who signed up in it’s first year thought. Mr. Hoffman also explored larger stores that would carry at least twice the number of titles as traditional Waldenbooks. These Waldenbooks & More stores would also carry merchandise beyond books.

Waldenbooks Preferred Reader Card

Mr. Hoffman introduced book clubs each with their own newsletter. A Romance Book Club with a bimonthly newsletter called Lovenotes, a Mystery Club with Crime Times, and Science Fiction Book Club with Xignals. There was also a Happy Birthday Book Club for children under 14.

Waldenbooks In store children's book display

And then there was Waldenbooks’ luxurious 32 page, 4 color holiday gift catalog published in 1981. Featuring hardcover books, paperbacks and calendars from over 100 publishers, it was, at that time, the largest single advertisement in book selling history. Out of the 6.5 million catalogs printed, more than 4 million copies were bound into a November issue of Time Magazine, which also made it the largest single ad ever in a national consumer magazine.

In 1991 Mr. Harry T. Hoffman retired, sailing off into the sunset, feeling confident of Waldenbooks future.

Waldenbooks Labelscar - Former Waldenbooks store

1987 Sears Video Wishbook – Santa’s Favorites

In 1987 Sears released their first in-home video catalog featuring an exciting collection of Sears exclusive electronic toys.

Sears Video Wishbook VHS

Some fun things to watch out for in the video:

  • Joey’s sweet shirt
  • Hillary being a great big sister offering to teach Joey to use the Computron
  • Ronny learns the true meaning of Christmas
  • Electronic toys can be fun
  • Humble Hillary admitting they could be better kids

 

 

Go ahead and put me down for a Lobo II and a Talking Computron.

I have no idea if Sears continued the idea of the video wishbook in following years or if this was a one year and done thing, though it does seem like a good idea as near the end of the 80’s nearly 90% of american homes had VCR’s, and in the 80’s we all loved our Christmas catalogs.

Missed out on all the great toys? You can still get one of these retro inspired buttons from Untitled Colours.

Store Showcase – Video Concepts

In 1981 electronics were becoming more affordable and therefore the home entertainment industry was just beginning to grow. Compact video cameras, home computers, video games and video cassette recorders could now be on everyone’s Christmas list. But where to buy them? At the mall of course. In the early 80’s there were roughly 120 Video Concepts stores located nationwide, with only one of those stores not located in a shopping mall.

Video Concepts Storefront
Video Concepts, Ridgmar Mall – Image from”Stores of the Year 6″ – 1991

Stepping into this Video Concepts store, located at Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth Texas, must have felt like stepping into the future, with various sizes of TV’s covering the walls, all playing a current release on video cassette.

Video Concepts Store Layout – Ridgmar Mall

The store layout was very much what we would we would get used to seeing in other consumer electronic stores. Tile mixed with carpeting to create different department areas throughout the store. Uncluttered walls that showcased the merchandise, and simple displays which made it easy to tear down and set up as new products were constantly being rolled out. However the black tiled ceiling and red neon lighting in this particular store makes me want to redo my basement.

Video Concepts Store Layout
Video Concepts, Ridgmar Mall – Image from”Stores of the Year 6″ – 1991

I personally do not remember buying a video cassette in the early 80’s as I was too young to be buying anything home entertainment, but I have come to find out that a recent release on video cassette could run you upwards of $90. Good thing you could rent movies at Video Concepts. Of course you had to buy your membership first, but after that each rental could be as low as $2 for a 24 hour period. What a great deal! But the rentals didn’t stop there. You could also rent VCR’s, even big screen TV’s.

Video Concepts Store Advertisement 1981
Video Concepts Advertisement – 1981

In addition to TV’s, VCR’s and camcorders, Video Concepts also carried audio separates, rack systems, computers, tapes and an array of accessories, all from the finest names in electronics. Panasonic, Sony, RCA and JVC. Or you could even step it up to Pioneer, Technics, Hitachi and more.

Video Concepts Sales Area
Video Concepts, Ridgmar Mall – Image from”Stores of the Year 6″ – 1991

“Ten years from now, we’re going to have home entertainment centers – a complete system with wide-screen TV, cassette recorder, disc player, even a computer.” Richard L. Soria, Manager, Video Concepts’ Inland Center store (The San Bernardino County Sun, 1981)

 

Advert Reactions – Vintage Mall Advertising

As much as I love to photograph and explore dead malls, I love the golden age of shopping even more. Who wouldn’t want to go back and experience those days just one more time? The following is a collection of advertising from some great old malls when times were better. I hope you enjoy.

Century III Mall – West Mifflin, PA

Century III Mall Advertisement

By 1980 the pieces were all starting to come together for Century III Mall. A brand new anchor, Montgomery Ward, was opening as well as the completion of phase two of the mall project which included the addition of over 40 new retail stores. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s completely fallen apart for for this once great mall. Today, only JCPenney remains as the lone anchor along with a small handful of stores. With a sale of the property looming this wonderful old malls days are certainly numbered.

 

Rolling Acres Mall – Akron, OH

Rolling Acres Mall Advertisement

Romig Road in Akron, Ohio is a desolate area full of broken dreams, shuttered shopping centers, closed restaurants and a field where Rolling Acres Mall once stood proudly, but it wasn’t always that way. Back in 1980 Romig Road was in the height of its golden age and the mall had themed shopping events such as this “Old Fashioned Days” which drew the likes of The Budweiser Clydesdales and a giant Barrel House that was brought into the mall for shoppers to view and enjoy.

Be sure and check out our previous articles for more on Rolling Acres Mall, including a 2003 video walk through.

 

Jamestown Mall – Florissant, Missouri

Jamestown Mall Advertisement

Summertime 1979. Fun times, a Fathers Day picnic, and of course, shopping at Jamestown Mall. Sounds like a wonderful time to be alive, or at least that’s how this illustration makes it look. Times have certainly changed haven’t they? Deemed no longer a viable location for a shopping mall in 2009, Jamestown Mall finally closed its doors for good in 2014.

 

Salem Mall – Dayton, OH

Salem Mall Advertisement - Dead Malls

As Dayton, Ohio’s first enclosed shopping center, Salem Mall was charged with excitement and flying high in the spring of 1982. Sadly this flight would come to a devastating crash and Salem Mall would close for good in 2005. Mostly demolished and forgotten, all that remains today is the empty shell of the former Sears store.

 

Regency Mall – Racine, Wisconsin

Regency Mall Advertisement

Described by current management as a failed mall, Regency Mall in Racine, Wisconsin is easily the least “dead mall” of any on this list. However, after recently losing yet another major anchor in The Boston Store during the Bon-Ton closings, this mall is in desperate needs of a hero if it is to stay alive much longer.

 

Store Showcase – Petite Sophisticate

I consider shopping more of a hobby. Like collecting stamps or coins, I collect clothes. Brick and mortar, online, thrift, doesn’t matter I will shop it. Now consider every time you shopped nothing fit right, no matter what. That sounds like absolute torment. But that is the way it was for so many women.

Petite sophisticate store
Image from “Stores of the Year 6” – 1991

Mr. Saul Skurow of Cincinnati, Ohio had been in the fashion business all his life and decided to take on the challenge of easing this pain. He understood that there were older women with petite figures who didn’t want to dress like teenagers, because at that time there wasn’t much else available to them. His solution was Petite Sophisticate. A retail store exclusively for petite women.

petite sophisticate storefront
Image from “Stores of the Year 6” – 1991

Petite Sophisticate was a place women could go to not only get a properly fitted outfit, but also a fashionable one. Suited for their age, their career, whatever the occasion called for. Mr. Skurow worked directly with manufacturers to create pieces for their own label. But they also carried brand names such as Liz Claiborne and Evan Picone.

Petite Sophisticate Store Layout
Store Layout – Petite Sophisticate

The store itself let it’s merchandise be the main color and decoration. With light wood fixtures and peach colored walls, the store was warm and inviting. Upscale without being intimidating. They even designed a custom fixture that had more capacity then your standard rounder, which allowed for much more display opportunities.

Petite Sophisticate Store Interior
Image from “Stores of the Year 6” – 1991

For me, Petite Sophisticate’s major contribution to the petite woman came In 1992 when they started carrying a line of pantyhose for petites under their label. As a lady I can fully understand how this one item could make a world of difference. And I am positive this store is still missed by many.

Petite Sophisticate Ad
Finally, fashion that fits – 1992 Advertisement